A Spouse is a Stranger at First

The following story of life in the home reflect the attitude of a typical husband and wife in traditional Japan. Things are quite different today, but the principles behind them can be applied to a harmonious relationship even in modern times! After a sweltering day in summer, a husband returned home saying,

“Honey, I'm home. What a hot day it was!”

“Welcome back, dear. The heat was bad. I agree. It was hot even just being here at home all day. How much more so it must've been working outside with all your might! Taro, go and fan your dad to help him cool off.” “What are you saying? The heat wasn't such a big deal at all. I was just making conversation, but if you'd like I can leave to prove to you it's not that hot.”

On the other hand, this is how the conversation would go if the wife spoke what was on her mind directly.

“Oh, you're home, dear. Yes, it's summer of course! You're not the only one who was hot working, you know? This time you go and put on the lovely painted face, OK?”

Then the husband's reply would be, “What the… What in the world is wrong with you? Why are you being like this today?”

There are times when a man wants to scold those around him as if they were his subordinates. At other times, he wishes to be spoiled like a child by others.

“Anyway, just do as I say.” These are his words when he feels like a powerful leader and wants to be greatly depended upon. He can even lay his head on his wife's lap saying romantically, “Hey, can you take out the dirt from my ear?”

In another story, a husband hands a 10,000 yen bill to his wife. He says, “Spend this 10,000 yen wisely. All right, sweetheart?”

“Don't think too much of yourself repeating, 10,000 yen, 10,000 yen, 10,000 yen. Just give me all the money you make without making such a big deal.”

“I have my own expenses and my own friends to hang out with too, you know?” said the husband. “You always talk about your friends. Why don't you do your drinking at home?”

“Can I drink at home looking at a face like a dropped pie?” The husband imitates his wife's angry expression.

“Enough is enough. I've put up with so much now. I've never been humiliated this much. Seventeen years ago, who was the one who said, ?Until death do us a part?'”

“Dang it! Not that again! Why do you have to bring up those things from the past?”

These are examples of how these arguments can get out of hand. So why do couples get into so many fights? A man is like a cogwheel with 47 cogs and a woman is like one with 48 cogs. There are times when suddenly two of the cogs get stuck together. It would be nice if one of the two says, “I'm sorry” when this happens. But if they compete with each other by arguing, then they will remain in conflict with each other. The cause of fights lies in thinking that husband and wife are one flesh, which results in talking and acting in a rude and impolite manner. We should not forget that a husband and a wife were strangers to begin with.

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #20 | 2012, A Spouse is a Stranger at First

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